Sadie bought me Across the Universe on DVD for Valentine’s Day. We finally got around to watching it last night, and I have to say I was pleased. Of course, I doubt it would’ve taken much on their part to please me. The movie centers around a few main characters, most notably Jude and Lucy. Jude is a dock worker from Liverpool who decides to take a trip to America to find his father. He meets Lucy‘s brother, Max(well), and they become quick friends. The story spirals out from there to include a whole cast of Beatles-inspired character names. In fact, there were very few (if any) characters actually named in the movie that were not some reference to a character in the Beatles’ music. Much like Forrest Gump, this movie also gives a powerful social history of the time.
The soundtrack was pretty awesome. While the singing was sometimes noticeably computer-altered, the arrangements of the music were amazingly original. Also, there were a few notable celebrity performances such as Bono (as Dr. Robert) singing I am the Walrus. Another great thing about the soundtrack is that it sampled music from The Beatles’ entire run, with pretty much equal representation from their earlier and later stuff.
The reason this movie was so successful was that it combined many aspects of The Beatles’ catalog with some history and a good story. Although I am a huge Beatles fan, they were before my time. I have always listened to their music out of the context of its time period, which was undoubtedly influential in their writing. Putting the music together with a picture of the time helped open my eyes to some additional meanings to some of my favorite music. Another fun aspect of the movie was picking out all the references to Beatles songs. Much like the character’s names, there were a number of nonchalant references in the dialog, such as Jude’s boss saying “when I’m 64.” (I found a nice list of all The Beatles references on Wikipedia, but I’d recommend only looking at them after you’ve seen the movie.)
If you’re not as in love with The Beatles’ catalog as I am (shame on you!), this movie may not be as significant for you. There are a few “trippy” sequences near the middle of the movie that seem to get off plot, but then again this is somewhat reflective of their music. Overall, it’s the music that drives this movie. If it wasn’t for The Beatles’ amazing songwriting abilities, this movie would have just been “ok.” But as I pointed out to Sadie multiple times last night, “Man, did those guys know how to write some music!” I’ve been listening to them for years, and their songs continue to set the bar for any music I encounter.
If you like even a few Beatles’ songs, this movie comes highly recommended.